By Victory Akpomedaye

I recall that dating back to the 1960s, Nigerians once lived in the archaic age and traditional means of communicating, informing, and transmitting messages from the sender to the receiver.

Then came a big breakthrough in ICT technologies. No doubt that computers, the Internet, and the Web changed our lives, and Nigeria being the most populous country in Africa has a huge urban growth rate at this present time.

This to me is a good condition for the upsurge of Internet usage, and the usage of ICT technology in such areas as education, health, agriculture, business, government, and transportation, and one can tell that much development has been observed since the last fifteen years.

Records have it that the Internet usage level in Nigeria in 2012 was less than 16% and this is a very low rate. In 2013 Nigeria had 1.38 Mbps of average download speed. The rate is extremely low in comparison with 10.1 Mbps – the download speed of the USA.

I know that the Nigerian ICT development is under rapid transformations especially in the field of mobile communication. In 2013, about 83% of the population (166.6 million people) were active subscribers of mobile phones. This tells us that ICT has huge potential to transform society. ICT can reduce the rate of poverty and improve the economic and social status of people.  ICT involves not only the technology but also the processes of retrieving, storing, or transmitting digital data. ICT includes any computing hardware and the hard and software for operating the networks for the transmission of information.

With over 200 million Nigerians, the country accounts for 60% of its population who are active in the use of ICT. This to me is a good report. Of recent across the globe, the relevance and power of information communications technology (ICT) to transform lives and bring about the development of people everywhere especially the youths has been on the front burner. This however remains a gold mine that the past and present governments are yet to fully discover.

With new technologies sprouting up daily with the sole aim of enabling communications and bridging the existing divide between the developed and developing world, the Nigerian Youth has also joined their adult counterparts in the global race to ensure that all corners of the world have access to life-changing technologies that can eradicate poverty, enable the achievement of the millennium development goals of the United Nations as well as bring about benefits that will make life meaningful for them. This innovation has transformed every facet of the Nigerian Youth that they now live with.

With numerous benefits accrued in ICT for national growth and the ability to meet global best practices, ICT has also contributed to vices that have now become a thick skin in their lives. It is sad to see how the Nigerian Youth now engage in vices, such as internet fraud, hacking, addiction, and diminished passion for academic excellence. Neglect of cultural values and identities has become the order of the day such that it is now worrisome that the ICT which is a means to greater heights for knowledge acquisition for the Nigerian Youth has been bedeviled with its numerous challenges.

The argument invariably portends on which sides of the divide one is to either use the internet for the positives or the negatives.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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